ZimFact, the Zimbabwean fact-checking organisation, is working under extreme pressure since the Covid-19 crisis reached the African continent. Fojo spoke with editor Cris Chinaka.
How has your work changed as a result of Covid-19?
“ZimFact has shifted editorial focus to cover almost exclusively Covid-19 issues because of its devastating impact. Our staff and correspondents have to learn extensively each day about the subject to remain knowledgeable (science, health, governance & social developments and challenges) around a fast-moving and harrowing crisis. This knowledge gathering process must cover Zimbabwe, Africa and rest of the world. We hold virtual editorial meetings daily, mapping out how to deliver and research on specifics in our new constrained environment. It’s intense and hard for a small editorial team but gratifying to provide reliable and critical information around a life-and-death issue.”
As Covid-19 spreads so does misinformation and fake news. How are you making it easy for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it?
“We are publishing on our different platforms: the website, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp. We are also sharing our materials with media houses and broadcasting stations for them to distribute it through their channels. We are encouraging media and colleagues in other fields to share our work in their closed WhatsApp groups. We are working with other fact-checkers globally, sharing information and expertise and well as collaborating on fact-checks and sharing contacts for cross-checking information.”
Where do people find resources to help check fact from fiction with regards to Covid-19?
“It is critical that people get their information on Covid-19 from credible organisations, sources and experts. These range from established media organisations, the WHO, UN agencies, health authorities dealing with the pandemic and fact checking organisations. To fact-check information, the public must insist on knowing the source. Fact-checking agencies around the world are devoting time and expertise on the subject and are good references for the public to cross check information.”
ZimFact is supported through the ZimMedia21 programme, managed by Fojo Media Institute and International Meda Support (IMS), and funded by the Swedish International Development Agency. The programme, which was launched in 2019 and runs to 2022, aims to narrow the information gap in marginalized communities by establishing and supporting innovative media and communication platforms and improving access to information, in particular for women and youth in rural areas.